Creamy Vanilla Cinnamon Breakfast Smoothie with Cashew Butter

cashew cinnamon vanilla smoothie

I finally found an answer to the age old question (and frankly, it’s not an answer I ever thought I’d hear myself say, but here it is): yes, it is possible to have too much chocolate.

Last week I realized I think I’d finally reached a maximum saturation of chocolate, after I noticed that one day I’d put it in everything: pancakes, trail mix, smoothies, hot chocolate, dark chocolate in the afternoon, and so on. I mean, raw cacao is indeed a superfood, but once you’ve crammed into nearly every food you consume, there comes a point when your body says, please! Another flavour, por favor.

And so I’m listening. I think I’m getting pretty good at understanding when my body is telling me it needs something new, and I try to listen to those subtle nudges. As a result, I’ve packed away my standard chocolate protein powder/raw cacao breakfast smoothie and replaced it with something that’s…well, I suppose basically the same in concept, but an entirely different flavour.

cashew cinnamon vanilla smoothie

Effectively this smoothie is kind of the like the green monster smoothie that people used to post all over the internet: non-dairy milk, nut butter, banana, greens (these will make your smoothie this glorious light green colour – though for the sake of photographic clarity, I left out the greens in this version), and some vanilla protein powder. I think french vanilla flavour would be best. I tried it with a ‘chai spice’ protein powder and it tasted exactly like eggnog, which was not what I was going for. You could also use plain protein powder, but consider adding a drop of two of vanilla stevia/or vanilla extract and plain stevia.

I also think you could totally use another nut butter in here if you’d prefer (I know cashew butter is quite expensive). Almond butter would be good (I once had a cinnamon almond butter that was heavenly), or maybe even sunflower butter! That said, cashew butter has such a lovely toasty nutty flavour – it just goes so nicely with cinnamon. Maybe treat yourself this once.

cashew cinnamon vanilla smoothie

So yes. It’s been a while since I posted last. It’s still a busy time – my part-time school program at CSNN is in its final, busiest months; work is really busy, and there is lots on the go. But, spring is here (heck, it’s practically summer) and I spent time planting today in the garden (tomatoes, beans, squash, oh my!), so I’m feeling a renewed sense of joie de vivre and possibility. I can get it all done, I feel purposeful (and not overwhelmed), and I have lots to look forward to.

And I’m having my cashew smoothie for breakfast tomorrow too. So many joys.

Enjoy the beauty of May!

Creamy Vanilla Cinnamon Breakfast Smoothie with Cashew Butter

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe notes: plant-based, gluten-free, protein-rich, healthy fats

Ingredients:

  • one cup non-dairy milk (add some coconut milk if want luxury!)
  • one frozen banana
  • one scoop plant-based vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or more, to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons cashew butter
  • a few ice cubes
  • optional extras:
    • one handful of spinach
    • 2 teaspoons maca powder
    • 1 tablespoon grass-fed collagen powder (note: this is quite obviously not plant-based)

Instructions:

  1. Throw it all in a blender/nutribullet/swirly-with-blades type device and blend until creamy!

© Backyard Owl

Turmeric and Vitamin C ‘New Year Best Self’ Creamsicle Smoothie

turmeric and C smoothie with banana and mango

2016 is here and every blog and its brother will be inundating you with ways to be healthier, more relaxed, more positive, lighter, smarter, faster, more focussed, and a generally more awesome version of yourself. More dubiously, you’ll also have information pushed at you about how to lose weight or become better looking.

Let’s just say this now: wanting to grow, heal, and embrace more joy in your life in 2016 is wonderful. Restricting, dieting, confining, squishing, or otherwise attempting to punish or hate your body or self into being something that fits a very (very!) narrow definition of attractive is not helpful. In fact, it’s harmful. Don’t fall prey to the new year thinking that somehow you aren’t good enough and changing your outside is what needs to happen.

turmeric and C smoothie with banana and mango

Ideally, your resolutions, goals, or priorities for the new year elevate and excite you, and they serve to boost your spirit, not depress you about how much you need to fix, improve, or change. That’s where I think the ‘new year, new you’ concept really falls off the rails. Each year shouldn’t start with a vow to rehaul your entire self. What kind of message does that send to your internal esteem? The idea is to bring more joy, more pleasure, more fun, more laughter, and more healing and growth into our lives to become the best version of ourselves in the process. That’s how to start the new year.

This smoothie is something I’ve been tinkering with over the holidays, and it represents some of these ideals in food-form: it’s boosting, light, energizing, healthy, and is just the kind of the tasty and tangy re-set your tastebuds might need after a more indulgent festive season.

turmeric and C smoothie with banana and mango

The turmeric adds a nice cheerful boost of yellow colour and is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and adding a healthy fat (I like NutraVege Citrus omega oil) helps with absorption and is good support for your brain and skin (every cell in your body needs and benefits from healthy fats – and you have trillions of cells all performing some little but necessary function at every moment. Give them some support!). Orange juice and mango add lots of Vitamin C, which is helpful for your immune system and your skin collagen, and the banana adds potassium and fibre. A scoop of protein powder adds some protein so that your smoothie can keep you full longer.

I typically measure out the juice, almond milk, and powders the night before, and then in the morning just add the mango and banana. Blend it up, and Bob’s your uncle.

Happy New Year to you all! May 2016 bring you joy, peace, love, and laughter, and may you feel that you lived it all in the presence of your best self.

Turmeric and Vitamin C ‘New Year Best Self’ Creamsicle Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (essentially equal parts juice to almond milk)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons (or 1 scoop) vanilla vegan protein powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons your favourite omega oil (fruit/citrus flavoured works well)
  • OPTIONAL: 2 teaspoons sunflower lecithin; 1-2 teaspoons maca powder

Instructions:

  1. Measure out all ingredients into a blender or NutriBullet-type device.
  2. Blend ’em up!
  3. Sip and enjoy.

(C) Backyard Owl 2016

Easy No-Bake Almond Butter Protein Bars with Chocolate and Coconut – v, gf

homemade chocolate almond butter protein barsI love a good vegan protein bar. Convenient, tasty, and portable, they can sometimes be the perfect answer to “me so hungry.”

But, it’s easy to start relying on them to fill in the gaps, well, just about everywhere. After the gym, as an afternoon snack, in place of supper, and so on.

It’s an expensive habit, and in the end, still a processed, manufactured product, meaning: not as good for you as real, whole foods. That said, if I can find a way to make a more “whole foods” version of a protein bar, I’m not going to say no.

homemade chocolate almond butter protein barsThese bars are made with almond butter, coconut oil, shredded coconut, chia seeds, almonds, cocoa powder, dates, raw vegan protein powder, and dark chocolate. Calgon, take me away.

As with most other bars (like my cookie dough protein bars or chia energy bites), the premise is simple. Whir a bunch of stuff in a food processor, mix some other stuff in a bowl, and then melt some dark chocolate as the finisher.

I’ve tried to include enough protein sources (nuts, seeds, protein powder) to make this a reasonable source of protein. If you’re noshing on it after a workout, you want it to provide the required amino acids.

So give these a try and see what you think. They have great flavour, hold together really nicely, and look really pretty.

homemade chocolate almond butter protein bars.3

Easy No-Bake Almond Butter Protein Bars with Chocolate and Coconut

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, no-bake, soy-free (depending on protein powder), naturally-sweetened (also depends on protein powder)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds, whole or ground
  • 2-4 scoops protein powder (I use a raw, rice-based protein powder that is sweetened with stevia)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons maca powder (optional)
  • pinch Himalayan pink salt (to balance the sweetness of the protein powder)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, soft
  • 1/3 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, whir together oats and cashews until finely ground. Add dates, and process until a moist paste forms.
  2. Press into an 8×8 square pan.
  3. In the same (now empty) food processor, process almond butter, coconut oil, shredded coconut, and cocoa powder. Whir in protein powder, salt, maca powder, and chia seeds. Mix until the paste is smooth and mostly uniform (pieces of coconut will remain).
  4. Pour this mix on top of the prepared crust. Sprinkle with flaked coconut.
  5. Put in the fridge to firm up.
  6. In the meantime, melt 1 teaspoon coconut oil and chocolate chips over a double boiler (a heat-proof bowl sitting over a pot of boiling water). Drizzle over top of firmed up bars.
  7. Cut into squares (whatever your desired size) and store in the fridge.

© Backyard Owl

Cookie Dough Protein Bars with Cashews and Dark Chocolate (v, gf)

cookie dough protein bars with cashews and dark chocolate

I was at my local natural foods store a few weeks back and they were sampling some delicious cookie dough protein bites. The recipe had all features I enjoy in a homemade protein bar – nut-based, naturally-sweetened, quality vegan protein, and dark chocolate – but I wanted to make my own version, because, well, that’s what we recipe testers do. We tinker. We tweak. We tamper.

I also wanted to mix up the flavours just a little bit more. I find commercial vegan protein powders, while awesome, are often too sweet, especially when the sweetener is stevia. To balance out the sweetness, I’ve added beautiful himalayan pink salt to my recipe, which gives the bars a more sweet/savoury balance (and adds a few additional trace minerals to the mix, which is never a bad thing).

Now, I’m not going to lie: photographing brown dough bars is no easy feat. But don’t judge these bars by their subdued appearance. They are delicious. They are so good that I daresay you could roll them in cocoa powder and call them truffles and serve them for dessert, and nobody would bat an eye.

cookie dough protein bars with cashews and dark chocolate

I made my bars using a mini-loaf silicone pan – just put about 1/4 cup dough in the pan and flatten and squish until bar-shaped, and then turn out onto a cookie sheet and chill in the fridge. But, you could also make these as little discs in a muffin tin, or as little round balls (is there any way to say that without it sounding inappropriate?).

If you wanted to get entrepreneurial, you could also add shredded coconut to these bars, or perhaps diced dried cranberries or apricots. Try varying the nut butters, or make with an almond or pecan base instead of cashews.

These cookie dough protein bars work beautifully as a healthy yet rich dessert, or, as a snack with some pumpkin seeds and fruit at work. And as a bonus, when someone asks you the question dreaded by all vegans – “where do you get your protein?” – you can say, well, lots of places, but most deliciously from these bars.

cookie dough protein bars with cashews and dark chocolateBackyard Owl’s Cookie Dough Protein Bars with Cashews and Dark Chocolate

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: gluten-free, vegan, naturally-sweetened, protein-filled

 Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 1/2 scoops of your favourite chocolate protein powder (I used Genuine Health Vegan Protein in chocolate) – should be about 1/2 to 2/3 cup protein powder
  • 1/4 cup nut butter (I used peanut butter)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp himalayan pink salt or sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Over low heat, warm nut butter and coconut oil until coconut oil is completely melted and everything is nice and liquidy.
  2. Whirl together cashews in a food processor until finely ground.
  3. Add dates a few at a time and blend until dates are fully processed (i.e no large bits remain) and dough is starting to look moist and soft.
  4. Scoop date/cashew mix into a large bowl, and stir in protein powder and sea salt.
  5. Pour coconut oil/nut butter mix over, and stir until well-combined. Dough at this point should be very soft and squishy, and very moldable.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips and give a quick taste test. Depending on your protein powder, you might wish to either add more salt, or alternatively, a bit more protein powder.
  7. Mold dough into preferred shape (individual bars, truffle size bites, etc) or press into a pan (to be later cut into squares).
  8. Chill in the fridge until firm, about 25 minutes.
  9. Bars keep in a tupperware in the fridge for at least a week.

Enjoy!

© 2014 Backyard Owl